Historically Speaking: An Open Letter To All…

“Do not applaud me. It is not I who speaks to you, but history which speaks through my mouth.” – Fustel de Coulanges

The Opening Chapter
I was going to devote this week to talk about the history of WCW’s old flagship pay per view Starrcade, but that will have to wait a week because I have to get some things off my chest. Forgive me for my ranting this week, but I think I’ll feel better when I’m done.

Enjoy, or don’t. I don’t really care this week.

An Open Letter to the IWC
I love wrestling. I love watching wrestling. I like reading about wrestling, whether on the Internet or in books. I like talking about wrestling. It’s my “sport.” It’s my entertainment fix. That’s why I am glad I am able to write this column each week. Save for the occasional writer’s block, I enjoy writing about wrestling. I enjoy writing about wrestling’s long history, as I have been a fan of the industry for over 18 years and am constantly trying to watch and read and unearth things I haven’t seen or heard about before.

And yes I am a WWE mark. I’ve grown up watching it and will continue to watch. It’s free and readily available on TV five hours a week. I also watch TNA each and every week; it’s also free and available. If there’s televised wrestling available I’ll watch it or record to watch it at an available convenience. In the 1999-2000 heyday there was almost a dozen hours of wrestling on between WWF, WCW and ECW. It was great. Hell, if I had more funds I would by every Ring of Honor DVD and start from the beginning and watch it all the way through. God knows I spend enough money on wrestling DVDs as it is.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not trying to toot my own horn here. I’m just getting frustrated by reading columns on the Internet by writers that apparently completely and utterly hate pro wrestling or just plain don’t watch it at all. That’s fine if you don’t like anything you see or don’t watch it, but why are you writing about it then? More on them later…

If all you watch is ROH, PWG, FIP, puro, lucha or your other favorite indy promotion then by all means, please stand on the top of a mountain and tell all about it. The more wrestling out there, the better. The more fans out there passionate about their favorite promotion or product, the better. But sometimes it falls into that same category as music elitists; the ones that only like a band until they hit the “mainstream” or “sell out.” Not everything in the mainstream is just utterly and horribly terrible. Somehow, things that are only seen by 100 people are the best things in the world and if you haven’t seen it then you’re not “with it.” Once a wrestler hits one of the big two, they’ve sold out and their new company diminishes their work. That mentality goes way back to the original ECW faithful from twelve or thirteen years ago.

But think about this, pro wrestling is a business where men and women as entertainers try to earn a decent living and gain some notoriety. It becomes his or her choice if they want to move from a more “fun” atmosphere to a bigger place with some more rules but more responsibilities, income and security. I’m sure at your accounting office or advertising firm you would weigh the options of staying in a more fun atmosphere versus a place with better pay and maybe not quite the same atmosphere. It’s your choice and their choice too. Your students at the small school you teach at don’t chant “you sold out” at you if you move to a bigger, better paying school do they?

Samoa Joe, CM Punk, Matt Sydal and others knew what they were getting into when they signed to one of the big two. Save for Bryan Danielson I’ve never heard of a wrestler who really hasn’t sacrificed one for the other if given the chance.

I always read columns about so-and-so should be pushed and so on. Hell, I’ve been guilty of that myself, but there has to been a line drawn somewhere. I read TNA-bashing columns all the time how all the old guys should step out of the way and the new guys should take over. I agree that new blood is good, but there has to be a process to it. If all of a sudden Frankie Kazarian, the Motor City Machineguns, Eric Young and Christopher Daniels were in all the top spots of the promotion it wouldn’t mean anything. It would just be a glorified indy promotion again. I agree that Rikishi, Dustin Rhodes and Test aren’t the answer to anything at all, but use Christian Cage, Kurt Angle and Booker T to their potential. Just because they’ve wrestled for a while doesn’t mean they’re obsolete. This past week’s TNA did a good job of integrating Styles, Joe, Young, Roode and Kaz into the established guys. If that continues then TNA could find themselves in a good place. I really like that The Dudley Boyz are working with young homegrown talent and really expect them to do the right thing in the end for the young guys. And did you see the small bit parts that Scott Steiner and The James boys played in this episode? Veterans are still useful in the right roles.

Apparently in her latest talent meeting, TNA president Dixie Carter used the analogy that TNA is like a play where everyone is assigned a role or a sports team where everyone runs the play that was called. Then she said anyone who was legitimately unhappy could go. Only Low Ki, one of over forty talents, took her up on her offer. I say bravo to Ms. Carter. Not everyone can be the lead or the quarterback. You can call for more love for the Machineguns or Bobby Roode, but at the expense of whom? If they get pushed then someone else will cry about the treatment of Chris Harris or Chris Daniels.

WWE pushes new guys like Bobby Lashley, Johnny Nitro, CM Punk, The Miz, MVP and Mr. Kennedy and the Internet writers still groan. And if you don’t think what Punk is getting is a push, think harder about it. He’s a singles champion, considered the top face and the anchor for a prime time cable program. He gets a guaranteed slot on every pay per view, something three-fourths of the roster can’t claim. He’s gotten to keep his name, the basis of his gimmick and look and has gotten over with a whole new group of fans who have never seen his bouts with Jimmy Rave, Samoa Joe or Raven. And all of what I just said about Punk can go for Joe down in Orlando too. As for the rest they say Miz is obnoxious, Lashley can’t work, Kennedy’s a hypocrite. What do you want out of a new top guy?

I’m all for complaining when the product gets bad or a legit talented performer is not getting the recognition he or she deserves, but it gets a bit much sometimes.

There’s a lot of complaining going out about the depth of WWE’s rosters, and how there are no tag teams or cruiserweights. While I agree wholeheartedly that cruiserweight division has been destroyed and sadly become nonexistent, I’ve come to realize that the tag team scenes aren’t all that bad. RAW is fielding four legitimate teams in Cade & Murdoch, London & Kendrick, The Highlanders and the current champions Holly & Rhodes. SmackDown! also has four teams in Deuce & Domino, Jesse & Festus, The Majors and Taylor & McEntyre, plus the current champions and Yang & Moore. That’s eight legit teams, plus a few part-time pairs, about on par with what the WWF had in some of its glory days and better than it was during “The New Generation” era. And tag team wrestling has never been a main event attraction in the WWF, even during the “TLC” era. Then it’s said that the roster depth is weak. Well spread over two and a half touring groups it does seem weak, but in total there’s about 75 current wrestlers on WWE TV counting the women. That’s a much higher number than before the brand split, when the total amount of performers would only range in the 50-60 person range.

WWE is apparently full of bad acting, entertainment and skits. Now I can’t always argue with that point, but when has it ever been good acting or skits? Does anyone remember the crap they used to put on Tuesday Night Titans or Saturday Night’s Main Event? Apparently that is now “fun” and “campy” while this is just bad. I don’t get it.

Then I read about how people clamor for good wrestling matches on free TV, but then all of a sudden if the match is “too good” or it’s a first time meeting then it wrecks a future PPV bout, because the first time newness is gone. Trust me, watching Kurt Angle and AJ Styles half ass it through a five-minute TV match does not ruin the illusion for me that on PPV they would be able to put on a five star, twenty-five minute classic. It all apparently equates to “no buys” or “hating money.” Then they say that the rest of the matches are either squashes or “angle advancement” matches so they’re not worthy of paying attention to either. What is that you want out of a free wrestling episode? Episodes of Impact that have just been murdered by reviewers I found quite entertaining. I knew what to expect going in; there would be some backstage “comedy” skits, some mid-card tag stuff, some women’s division stuff and a fairly decent main event. You should know what to expect by now, Vince Russo didn’t just up and die last week did he?

But my favorite of all time is reading wrestling columns by writers who apparently don’t even watch wrestling anymore or don’t watch any current wrestling. Why the hell are you writing on a product you don’t watch anymore? It’s baffled me recently how many columnists have admitted they don’t watch the current product or any wrestling anymore yet they’re still writing about it weekly. Now I understand there’s a multitude of reasons why one would not watch the current product anymore and that’s fine. Just step away from the keyboard if you don’t enjoy pro wrestling anymore.

The Perspective
Ok, I’m done. I feel better now and am glad I got that off my “wrestling conscious” and into printed word.

Trust me, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know the best way to book a wrestling show or make it entertaining. There is no way to make a perfect wrestling scene because every fans has different tastes. Hell, I’m an admitted WWE homer so I haven’t seen The Briscoes drop everyone on their heads multiple times, and I never saw Misawa return from cancer. But I know that I’m still a fan of the business. I enjoy watching, reading, writing and talking about it. This was just one Mark’s point of view.

For this week the vault is closed…

Linked to the Pulse
PC talks about the big RAW XV show this week, and like most of us out there, found it to be quite enjoyable.

SK steps back into his ranting chair to give his thoughts on RAW XV.

Bambi gets a plug, if for nothing else because of the glorious picture of Sunny that accompanies the article.

Recent History
This is the section where I can ramble through my thoughts on this past week in wrestling, whether it be the television shows, pay per views, or any news that came out. Kinda like Vh1’s “Best Week Ever,” but this should be less annoying…hopefully.

TNA was fairly entertaining this week. The women’s division continues to be the best booked of the whole show. The main event delivered once again, but the face team may be the most random group ever assembled. Some of the undercard angles are a bit head scratching, but I do love that Russo finds something for everybody to do. Oh, but it is really necessary to reference the Booker T-Kurt Angle bestiality feud from WWE?

I liked the special Thursday edition of ECW. It just had a simple, old school feel to it. The Tag Champs won a semi-competitive squash. Shelton Benjamin, a superstar on the rebound, got some time to get over his new catchphrase, finisher and nickname. There was a show-long story that built to the main event. But what happened to Kevin Thorne? I get that he’s back into rebuilding mode now too, but his whole gimmick was stripped away. He looks like Johnny Jobber with highlights and eyeliner.

I wasn’t expecting much from SmackDown! this week but I was pleasantly surprised. The VIP Lounge with MVP and Michael Hayes was pure gold this week. I am excited for this new WCCW DVD but I’m cautious about how the disc will be compared the Heroes of World Class disc from last year. And that capture spear/spinebuster from Batista onto Elijah Burke was a beautiful sight.

I was so excited for the 15th anniversary RAW, probably more so than almost any other episode. Here are my random streaming thoughts: great opening…hot crowd…Sunny looked good…MARTY! the Rabble forums lit up like crazy…nice to see RVD back, at least for a second… mark out about Dave and RKO as dual champs, I guess Evolution worked as a concept overall…nice double spinebuster, shades of “Double A”…Hogan in black, hmmm…expectant Gladiators plug but Macho Man impression, WTF?…the battle royal was just one big mark-out, especially for Gillberg and the IRS-DiBiase shenanigans, so glorious… nice moment for The Rhodes family but it was easy to spot the Title change once Dusty came out for commentary…always a pleasure to see Trish, and Jillian’s antics were quite entertaining…nice Kane/Lita moment…Marty again; I was worried he got fired over the course of the show…great ending, fantastic build-up to the Stunner; I knew it was coming but I was laughing all the way through the build-up…perfect closing for the show…
I had more fun watching this episode of RAW than any other free wrestling show I’ve ever seen. It was everything I had hoped for and more. To those who didn’t like the show or complained about a majority of it, I question why you are a wrestling fan in the first place.

That Morrison/Miz-Yang/Moore tag match from ECW on Tuesday was way better than it had any right to be. Let’s see a rematch please. Better yet, make it for the belts and have it open the Royal Rumble PPV. I also liked the old-school vibe of the Striker, BDV, Henry interview with the little manager behind his two behemoths for an interview. Very Wrestling Challenge-ish. Who’s booking this show again? Hayes, Rhodes or both?

This Day in History
I figured if we are talking history around here we should pay homage to what has happened on this very day in the years gone by. It will either make you long for the old days or be happy for what we have now.

1920 – Ed Strangler Lewis defeated Joe Stecher for the World’s Heavyweight Wrestling title
1988 – SuperClash II was held at the UIC Pavilion, Chicago, IL
1988 – Jerry Lawler defeated Kerry Von Erich for the USWA Unified Heavyweight title
1989 – NWA Starrcade was held at The Omni in Atlanta, GA
1989 – Andre the Giant & Haku defeated Demolition for the WWF Tag Team title
1993 – Alundra Blaze defeated Heidi Lee Morgan in a tournament final for the WWF Women’s title
1995 – Jeff Jarrett defeated Ahmed Johnson for the USWA Unified Heavyweight title
1997 – Ricky Harrison defeated The War Machine for the SSW Heavyweight title
1998 – Rob Van Dam & Sabu defeated the Dudley Boys for the ECW Tag title
1999 – Scott Hall & Kevin Nash defeated Goldberg & Bret Hart for the WCW Tag Team title
2000 – Scott Hall arrested for allegedly kicking the door of a taxi in Florida
2003 – Danny Maff defeated Jerry Lawler for the Jersey All Pro Heavyweight Title
2003 – Eddie Thomas defeated Skinhead Ivan for the Jersey All Pro Television Title
2003 – Sonjay Dutt defeated Ruckus for the Combat Zone World Light-Heavyweight Title
2003 – Jimmy Rave defeated Trent Acid for the Combat Zone World Ironman Title

1953 – “Junkyard Dog” Sylvester Ritter was born
1993 – Larry Cameron died of a heart attack at 41

The Assignment
This week the assignment gets its own seperate column, as I give a full review of the brand new Triumph and Tragedy of World Class” DVD.

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